Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

DonotenterThe one thing you should never say to a child, “Don’t do (whatever you don’t want them to do).” The first time my mother said those words, we were living in Fallon, Nevada on Mesquite Lane.

On this sunny, summer day in mid June, my mom said to my brother and I, “Don’t go out into the desert at the end of the lane. There are mines out there you could fall into and we would never find you.”

What we heard was, “There are mines out there.” Mines with gold in them. Mines with amazing jewels. Mines with Pirate’s treasure like on TV. That’s all we heard.

“There are mines out there.”

The call of adventure was just too much to turn away. My brother, Brad, and I decided…

— okay, let me pause here and say, to be honest, my brother never really decided anything. He would agree with pretty much any hair-brained idea I could come up with. —

…that a fast jaunt out into the desert with our bikes wouldn’t be a bad thing. And, I reasoned, we could be back in plenty of time so that no one would know we were gone. The story we told Grandma was we were going down to the twins’ house to play for awhile.

The first problem was, we neglected to tell the twins we were pretending to be at their house.  The second problems was we also neglected to tell them where we were headed.

THE ADVENTURE

Because of this, no one knew we had gone to the end of Mesquite Lane and out into the desert, with its grease wood, sagebrush, scorpions, and lizards. Where the mystery of the mines waited for two industrious kids to find the millions in gold doubloons hidden out there.

I was a very imaginative child. I lived in the stories of my mind. The bubbles that floated inside my mind were half formed and not as rich in texture as they would later be. However, they were still just as vibrant as a nine year old girl could imagine. I was an avid reader since the age of three. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Dr. Seuss started me out, then the Berenstain Bears, but it was the Hardy Boys who captured my adventurous spirit.

We rode our bikes to the end of the gravel road and then past it. The line was crossed between the real world and my imagination. There was no going back now. The late morning sun beat down and warmed the sand to a temperature that would blister a bare foot. Summers were easily in the high nineties by June and mid one hundreds by July and into August. It was normal to have a day that the temperature would reach one hundred and fifteen degrees by two in the afternoon. The heat waves were stifling and the sand was scalding. Living in the desert, we learned not to go outside without a light colored long sleeved shirt on. The shirt would protect us from the suns rays. Water was scarce. It was a desert after all. But we learned to live in it. We always carried water.

My grandfather had given us an old, metal, boy scout canteen encased in a canvas BS Canteencover. If you got the canvas wet, put it in the refrigerator overnight, the next day, it would keep your water cool as long as you left it in your pack away from the direct sunlight. It was a faded army green color and I imagined that we were army soldiers. We were trudging toward the battlefield, with sticks of grease wood for rifles. I said as much to my brother. He looked at me with big, wide, hazel eyes, “What kind of battle are we going into, Belly?” Yes, he called me Belly. That’s another blog post in itself.

“We are in World War Two in the desert in France. The Nazi’s have invaded. Our unit is under attack and we have to save them. The battle is just over that little rise. Can you hear the gun fire?” I pointed toward the little bump that seemed far away in the desert, hoping it wasn’t a mirage. He nodded, his small seven year old hands gripped his rifle tighter.

“Our soldiers we are pinned down over there. We have to find them and help them. But first, we have to look for the mine where we hid guns and ammo out here last year.” I squinted my eyes, feeling the sweat trickle down my cheek, and scanned the horizon. There was no way I was going to tell my little tattle tale brother about the bags of Spanish gold doubloons I imagined lay out there in a mine. He would go tell every kid and adult he could find. No, I would keep it secret and be the great adventurer who found it. My name would be in the Stillwater Gazette.

“Lets go, soldier.”

We started out again, walking with our bikes because the sand was too deep to ride them. Within minutes, Brad started complaining, “I’m tired. Why is it so far out there?” His tanned face was squinted up in an ugly whining mask. “I’m thirsty. Can’t we stop for a drink?”

I sighed and kept walking, not bothering to answer. He wouldn’t be satisfied with what I said anyway. The grit settled into the creases of my face. It felt grainy, but also made me feel like I was a real soldier. Just like one of the Magnificent Seven.

It seemed like hours, but, finally, we reached the small hill and trudged to the top. There we stopped in wonder. Both of us put our hands above our eyes to shade them from any mirages. This was better than any mine, or battle, or anything I could come up with. I grinned and looked at my brother.

“Do you believe this?” I asked in excitement.

“No way!” His smile crinkled his face and the muddy sand cracked around his mouth.

Before us in a small bowl-like structure. It was the biggest, best, motorcycle track we had ever seen. It had hills and bumps and hard pan. We could play for hours on this. It was a bicycle rider’s heaven. This was so much more fun than a mine. We had found a playground in the desert.

We raced each other down the hill with our bikes. This was a kids nirvana and we played for hours, although it only seemed like minutes to us.  Not only did we save battalions of Army Soldiers, we won Grand Pris motorcycle races against impossible odds.  We jumped the Grand Canyon like Evil Knievel.  We were heroes for that gorgeously hot day.

THE AFTERMATH

The sudden chill in the air alerted me that evening was upon us. I looked up and it seemed as if the sun was setting much faster than I realized. The pink, orange, and deepening blue of the sun set was beautiful, but ominous. We were out in the desert, needed to get home and get home fast. I barked out, “Bud, we have to leave, now!” He looked up at the sky and without another word we both started running with our bikes toward home.

I didn’t know exactly what time it was, but it was probably close to ten p.m. That meant, we had missed dinner. Oh this was bad. My stomach growled and cramped, not in hunger, but in fear. There was no getting around the fact that we would be in trouble. We were much later than we should have been.

The trek home seemed to take a long It was full dark by the time we walked our bikes into the dirt parking lot outside my grandparents’ house.

My heart started beating faster when I saw that there was a police cruiser sitting there. Every light in the house was blazing. The porch screen door was open. This was definitely not good at all. I looked at my brother standing next to me, his bike leaned against him, his arms down, resting his hands on the banana seat of his bike. He face was ghost white in the pale illumination from the house. He looked so small and fragile in his fear. I felt guilty. The kind of guilt that you have as the oldest child. The one who always gets us in trouble and has to find a way to get us out. Only this time we both knew there wasn’t any way to get us out of this one. We were late, the cops had been called. We were in it deep.

I took a deep breath, walked my bike over and leaned it against the chain link fence. My brother did the same. I went first up the steps. I was the oldest after all.

What happened was a blur of adult activity. Questions were lobbed at us like hand grenades. So fast, direct, and explosive that we couldn’t answer them. So I just stood there, nodding occasionally, looking as scared as I felt.

Mom said quietly controlled, “Where the hell have you been?”

“We were out in the desert at this track…”

“Don’t you lie to me, young lady. You were out looking for those stupid mines I told you not to go after.”

I hung my head, “No, we found a motorcycle track…”

“Stop it! You know what happens when you lie. Dad, please talk to her. I’m so mad I can’t think.”

Grandpa – “Punkin’, you know you scared the hell out of all of us, don’t you?”

I nodded.

“You could have killed your brother. Do you want that?”

“No, sir.”

“I used to make your mother go get her own switch when I had to spank her, but we don’t have switches out here. I am going to have to use a belt.”

I cringe inside. “Yes, sir.”

My brother starts to cry softly.

Mom interjects, “See what you’ve made your brother do? He’s crying because of you.”

I look at him and then look up at my grandfather, feeling the responsibility completely. “Don’t whip him, Grandpa. I was the one who made us go out there. I wanted to see the mines and find the gold.”

Grandpa sighed, shaking his head, “There ain’t no gold out there, Punkin’. They would’ve found it by now. There’s just holes in the ground. You can’t even see ‘em until you walk right into ‘em. And they’re so deep that no one would ever find you or your brother. I don’t want to do this, but I have to teach you a lesson. You’ll get a spankin’ in the morning, before breakfast.”

My back end started hurting as I imagined what was going to happen. I wouldn’t cry though. I never cried. Hot tears burned in my eyes. I blinked rapidly, still looking at the linoleum floor. “Yes, sir.”

“Now take yourself and your brother to bed. I have to talk to Gary.” The officer took a step closer and stood straighter.

“Mr. Blakney, it looks like it’s all okay. I don’t have to make a report if you don’t want me to.” Officer Gary was mom’s friend. He was a boy friend. She sometimes spent the night with him. He owned a police dog so we couldn’t go see him, because his dog was mean. In 1979 he was shot in the face by a bank robber he had pulled over for speeding in Carson City. He didn’t know the guy had just robbed a bank. I heard they had to put down his dog because no one could control it. Mom went to his funeral. I never saw her cry though.

That night was sleepless and scary. I had heard stories of my grandfather whipping my mom. He wasn’t exactly easy on the task.

THE SPANKING

When morning came, I got dressed. My brother came in with a stack of his underwear, “If you put on a bunch of mine, maybe it won’t hurt so bad.”

I seriously considered it, until I realized that number one, his wouldn’t fit me and number two, grandpa would know. Parents always knew. “Thanks, Bud. But I will just get it over with.”

His hazel eyes filled with tears. “I don’t want you to get a whippin’. We were just playin’. Nothing bad happened!”

I awkwardly patted his shoulder, “It’s okay, Bud. It’ll be okay. When I’m done, we’ll go play in the wood pile. Does that sound good? I think we should go to Mars, what do you think?”

He straightened up, smiling brightly and innocently. He was such a good kid. So trusting and loyal for a little tattle tale brother. “Yeah, that would be great! I’ll wait for you outside!” He ran out, slamming open doors as he went.

I stood from tying my shoes and smoothed down my shirt. I was ready. Walking quietly into the kitchen was easy. Grandma was at the stove, frying bacon. It’s sizzling and popping sound so familiar. The smell was overwhelmingly delicious. I wondered if I would ever enjoy the smell of cooking bacon again. I walked past the kitchen bar and out to the side porch where grandpa sat, a brown leather belt draped over his knees, smoking a cigarette.

“Morning, Grandpa.” I said, as I walked up and turned to face him. I set my shoulders squarely. I might as well stand tall. It was gonna hurt like hell either way.

He looked at me with eyes so blue the sky was jealous of the color. “Mornin’, Punkin’. You ready for this?”

I didn’t look at him, but I didn’t look down either. I looked over his left shoulder at the mountain lion skin hanging there. “Yes, sir, I am.”

He nodded and stood up creakily. “Then turn around and bend over. Put your hands on your ankles. This is gonna hurt me more than it’ll hurt you.”

I did as I was told. The spanking hurt like hell and I never understood how it hurt him more. It stung, bled, and I grunted a few times as the slap of leather burned over a previously hit section. His aim wasn’t the best because he hit my back half the time.  I think I got twenty lashes. That’s what Mom told me when I was older. I don’t remember, I took my mind to a thought story bubble, of a girl running in a field of dandelions in the sun. No pain, no fear, just running and playing.

When I came back, it was over. I straightened up, hurting everywhere.

“Go have your Grandma look at that back and butt. Have her put some Mercurochrome on the cuts.”

I did as he told me. The cure was almost as bad as the cut.  I was stiff and sore for a few days and I also learned a very valuable lesson.

THE LESSON

Was it a lesson on how to listen to your parents when they tell you not to do something?

Short answer – No. Long answer – Oh hell, no!

I learned that if I was going do something I wasn’t supposed to do, I better pay damned good attention to the time. I asked, begged, pleaded for and was finally given an old windup pocket watch my grandfather had.

I cherished that watch and we were never late for dinner again. Our adventures took just enough time to fill the day and then we were done. It was a child’s version of the short story.

I think I learned it pretty well!

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Thanks for reading and follow me for more interesting tales.  The links are below.

Until next time…

M.

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

I usually don’t toot my own horn, but this month has been an amazing journey for me.  As you know, I started a novel with the intention of forming 50,000 words in 30 days.  That meant writing 1,666 words, at least, for 30 days.  Every day.  No breaks.  1,666 words.

It’s a lot harder than you would think.  And over the course of this last month, I’ve learned a lot about myself personally and as a writer.  See, I can honestly say that now because I feel it.  In the end, on November 27, 2013, I clocked in at 53,441 words.  So, I am a writer.  I realized that I had won, but I still was. or rather am, in awe of it.  I’ve still got the ending to finish, also.  Which means… I am not done.

Yes, That’s right.  I. Am. Not. Done.

But here is the real interesting part.  At the beginning of the month, I was naively proud and cocky that I would succeed.

It’s not that hard to write 1,666 words in a day.  I’ve read blogs where professional writers are clocking in at 3,000 even 5,000 words in a day.  I can puke up a mere 1,666.  I laughed heartily…. HaHA!

Yeah…

Well….

It’s a pretty humbling experience to sit in front of a screen and stare at that blank page.  It’s like standing up to give a speech.  You shake.  You try to picture it in it’s underwear.

You get up and get a drink of water and come back.  Stare some more.

You poise your fingers over the key board the way it was taught in typing class (back when they had typing class).  You take a deep breath.  You close your eyes.  You picture the scene in your head.

And you type.

You keep typing, until typing is the only thing you can do.  Your mind breaks open like a watermelon hitting the pavement from a ten foot drop.  It bursts into a million tiny pieces of imagination.  and you type.  Furiously, until you feel as if your hands won’t ever move again.

Finally in exhaustion, you stop.  Your fingers are cramped and crooked.  You are so very proud of yourself.  You say, “I have written a novel!”

Then you look at the word count.  You stare at it in disbelief.

1,642

Your parched throat constricts.  If you weren’t so dehydrated, you would feel tears drip down from your lashes onto your pallid cheeks.  Your chapped lips form each of the numbers, cracking and bleeding as they do.  One thousand, six hundred forty-two words.

You hang your head, your greasy hair falling around your face.  You look like a girl from those Asian horror movies.  You feel even creepier.  Your mind can’t seem to get around the fact that you haven’t written enough.

“Maybe I should quit.  Just give up.  There is no way I can do this for 30 days.”  You shake your head slowly, defeated.

But your mind has already been opened.  You realize that, while it seems that you’ve just poured your soul out into a bottomless pit.  There is more.   There is more where that came from.  The story has just begun.  You aren’t done.  Your mind has already started thinking and processing what comes next and then after that.

You raise your head and look at that number again.  1,642.    When you had started this day, it was zero.  Now it was much more than that.   So, it wasn’t the exact amount needed.  So what?

Did word count really matter?

To quote an author I admire, Scott Sigler, “It’s all shite anyway.”  Just put it down and worry about the rest later.

So I squared my shoulders, shook the hair out of my eyes, took a long drink of water, and I started again.  Every day.

Halfway through the month, I realized I could type more and faster.  So I prepared for the holiday, ‘cause we all know they ain’t gonna be no typing when your belly is full o’ turkey!

And here I am.  53,441 and still going.  I’m okay with that.  I’m more humble.  But also, much more determined.  If this were easy, there would be a million of us doing it.

Oh wait, have you looked on Amazon lately?  Let me rephrase that.  If it were easy to write well, there would be million of us doing it.

I aim to write and I aim to write well.  Or at least tell the stories that are in my head well.  But that’s for another post.

Now that my first goal has been reached, saying, “I am a writer.”  My next goal will be to say, “I am a published writer.”

By the way, I’ve started a couple of short stories, too.  One is a horror story called “Emil’s Boat.”  I hope to have it published in an anthology I am submitting to.  But, again, that’s for another post.

Hope you join me.  See ya soon, right here.

M.

How many times have you been watching a movie and had the insane urge to scream at the screen, “Don’t open that door!  The bad guy/monster/ghost/boogie man is behind there!”  And then the blonde/brunette/redhead disposable actor does it anyway, then they get killed, and you say, “I told you so…”  We feel all superior in our knowledge that we’d never do something like that if we were ever in that situation.  I know how you feel.  I said the same thing.

Notice that I used the past tense.  I don’t say that anymore.  Let me tell you a story of why I don’t.

The year was 1980, I was 14 going on 15 and my brother and I had decided to see a Friday night movie.  The only movie playing in the small Wyoming town we lived in named Pinedale was a horror b-movie classic called “Prophecy, The Monster Movie“.  It turned out to be a bad take on what happens when there is too much mercury in the water.  A giant trout jumps out of the water of a beautiful backwoods lake, the animals all go crazy, but the worst part was the bear/pig/skinless monster thing that is a female looking to protect her family of monsters.  Talia Shire and Armand Assante don’t make it any better.  But to a fourteen year old’s limited exposure to horror, it was terrorizing.  The movie wasn’t particularly gory by today’s standards, however, I had to leave the theater and peek through the curtain to finish the movie.  It scared me more than I’d ever been scared before.  The ride home with my brother in the back of the little red Toyota pickup was cold, silent, and watchful.  We both knew at any minute that monster would come through the back window and kill us all.  Needless to say, nightmares ensued for a few days.

But that’s not the real change, no my friends, I still made the same comments as I grew older and watched more horror movies.  With false bravado I would say, “Don’t open that door!”

A couple of years passed and we’d moved from a ranch in Pinedale, Wyo. to a ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo.  I had been driving for two years.  I was sixteen and as all sixteen years old who drive, I was very cocky and sure of myself.  It was a mid-winter night.  Jackson in mid-winter in 1982 was bitter cold, frosty, and deep in snow.  The snow was piled high on the banks of the road going into the ranch.  It wasn’t too late, close to midnight.  My brother and I were coming home from watching a horror movie that was even more forgettable than the one in 1980.  We were reminiscing about that time in Pinedale, when that movie had scared us so bad.  I drove down the packed snow road through the ranch in the same little red Toyota pickup.  The snow plows had piled the snow high enough on the banks that the darkness coupled with the dim head lights created a sense of driving through a tunnel.  The only true clear vision of what was ahead of me was the packed snowy road and the sides rising up like frozen stalagmites around a cave.   Dimly I saw  the outlines of forest trees passing by just past the banks.  Perhaps I was going a little too fast for the conditions, perhaps.  But, we were discussing the funny way we were so afraid back then and how we weren’t afraid of it now.  I haughtily made the comment that if I’d been the one driving the truck when the monster burst out from the brush in the dark, I would never have stopped like Talia Shire did.  No, I would have just hit the gas and run that damned monster over.  We both agreed that would be the case.

Within seconds, at the very edge of the dim headlights, a huge, dark figure burst from the side of the snowbank into the middle of the road.  It’s gigantic burly head swung in our direction and dangerously glowing red eyes gazed malevolently at us.  I saw the bear/pig skinless female monster roaring with grotesquely crooked teeth, ready to rip out our throats.

What did I do?  What would you do?  I gripped the steering wheel tightly and slammed on my brakes.  I slammed those brakes hard.  So hard that we went into a slide, slowly gliding closer to the evil monster thing.  We were helpless now, I had no control of the truck and I was going to die.  I just knew it.  I glanced at my brother.  His hands were braced against the dashboard and his eyes were bulging out in fear.  Our little red Toyota pickup slid closer.  The monster became clearer as we slid closer and came to a gentle stop probably 15 feet from it.  I had just done what I’d sworn I would never do.  I had stopped.  Now we were dead, just like in the movies.  I blinked rapidly still seeing the monster for a second raising it’s wrinkled pig/bear head to roar at us.

Then my vision cleared and I saw what was truly there.

The biggest male elk I’d ever encountered was huffing energetically in front of us.  His nostrils were blowing steam puffs into the cold.  He stood tall and broad-shouldered in front of us, regally daring us to come closer and taste the death of his antlers.  We didn’t take the bait, so he shook his massive head, turned and leaped up the other side of the snow bank back into the darkness.  The little red Toyota pickup, my brother, and I just sat there.

The silence was only broken by the warm idle of that little red Toyota pickup.  I looked at my brother, back at the empty road, then back at my brother.  He looked at me.  We burst out laughing.  Probably a little too hysterically and with huge relief.  We couldn’t help it.  We laughed for at least three minutes.  I shifted into first gear and slowly drove the mile and half home.  Neither of us said a word on that drive.  I parked in the driveway.  We both got out of the little red Toyota pickup.  We went inside and went to bed.

We didn’t talk about it again until after many years had passed.

But that’s a different story.  The point of this one is that I decided at that moment to never say “Don’t open that door..” again.  Ever.  I’d learned my lesson.  Art does have a basis in reality and horror can make you do things you wouldn’t ever think of doing if you were just watching it.  Like an outsider looking into a movie safe and warm in your chair.

Hence the basis of my novels.  What would happen if you put a normal person into a horrific situation.  Would they always do the wrong thing?  Or would they act with the same detached insight we have in our haughty chairs?

Let’s go on this path together and find out.  Will you join me?

M.